Technical reservists offer current commercial expertise and knowledge of commercial trends that may be otherwise inaccessible inside the Navy. For example, it is difficult for the Navy to retain active-duty engineering officers with advanced degrees in computer- and communication-related technical areas. These qualifications command substantially higher salaries in the private sector. Many Ph.D.-level computer engineers in Silicon Valley charge more than $300 an hour for consulting. Technical reservists are available at bargain rates relative to the value of their skills.
Military use of electronics once was significant enough that the military could demand components and systems built to its specifications. Today, the military is such a small segment of the commercial electronics industry that military-specifications components have all but disappeared. Military systems must be composed of commercial integrated circuits and subsystems, and they must use commercial operating systems, protocols, and applications. Expertise in design, development, and use of these commercial-off-the-shelf products can be found among the Navy's reservists.